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International Women’s Day

Women in the US Workplace

The recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that began in the United States in October of last year have had a profound impact on the American workplace. In just the last two weeks, Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic party Senator from Massachusetts, co-sponsored a bill that would require public companies to disclose how much money was spent on sexual harassment and sexual misconduct settlements, thus forcing companies to keep track of and report on sexual misconduct in their workplaces. The bill, called the Sunlight in Workplace Harassment Act, was introduced this past Tuesday.

Recent research, conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, reinforces this impact on the workplace.

Challenger found that 71 percent of sexual misconduct and abuse reported in the news media due to the #MeToo movement occurred in the workplace last year, while 26 percent was reported to the company. Ninety-nine percent of the abuse was committed by men. In all but five cases, the alleged abuser was removed, resigned, or was fired from their jobs or projects.

Just over 34 percent of companies reevaluated their sexual harassment policies in light of the #MeToo movement, according to a survey conducted by Challenger in January. The time is ripe to look at company culture and foster an environment that values safety, especially for women.

In 2017, a year when the fewest Chief Executive Officers left their posts – likely due to uncertainty surrounding tax law and other legislation - 11 companies ousted their Chief Executive Officers due to sexual misconduct allegations, all men. This was 266 percent more than left for that reason in 2016. In fact, a total of three CEOs left for that reason in each of the last three years. Companies are paying attention to this issue and replacing leadership that poses a threat to female workers.

Additionally, Challenger’s survey in January found nearly 50 percent of companies are reexamining their compensation structures to ensure women are paid equally to men. Many expressed the need for an outside third party to audit compensation to ensure pay parity. This represents a real commitment to equality.

One area companies can immediately improve is guiding women toward and promoting women to leadership posts. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas research, women in leadership roles are still lagging their male counterparts. Of the 993 replacement CEOs recorded in 2017, 183, or 18.4 percent, were women. That is down slightly from 2016, when women represented 193, or 18.5 percent, of the 1,043 replacement CEOs announced by U.S.-based companies.

2017 was an improvement over 2015, when women represented 15.3 percent of new CEOs.

Men still represent the vast majority of CEO replacements, accounting for 82 percent of the replacements recorded in 2017. In 87 of those instances, men were named as replacements for women. Last year saw 117 women replace male Chief Executive Officers.

A study from Grant Thornton found the number of women in leadership roles rose just 1 percent, from 24 percent in 2016 to 25 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, the number of companies with no women in leadership roles rose from 33 percent in 2016 to 34 percent last year.

Clearly, women are using their voices to reveal the inequality experienced, especially in the workplace. The time is now for companies to listen.

Read more on this topic from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Companies Work Toward Equal Pay

Women CEO Report

2017 CEO Turnover Report

Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace 2017